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'New challenges' prompts Kildare defender to step away from senior football squad

Johnny Byrne will not be available next season for the Lilywhites.

Johnny Byrne in action for Kildare against Mayo last June.GAA
Johnny Byrne in action for Kildare against Mayo last June.GAA
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

KILDARE DEFENDER JOHNNY Byrne has opted to step away from their senior football squad ahead of the 2019 season. 

The Allenwood player has cited ‘new challenges I’ll face in the coming months and goals to fulfil that will require 100% from me’ as the reasoning behind his departure, which he announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

Byrne was a regular at half-back for Kildare in the 2018 championship as they emerged through the qualifiers, claiming a famous win over Mayo in Newbridge, and contesting the inaugural Super 8s with ties against Monaghan, Galway and Kerry.

The news robs Kildare boss Cian O’Neill of a defensive option ahead of next season. O’Neill recently finalised his management team for 2019 with highly-rated coach Alan Flynn, a former Galway All-Ireland U21 winning boss, coming on board along with new selectors in Tom Cribben and Karl O’Dwyer.

Byrne did not rule out the prospect of a return to the Lilywhites in the future with his statement in full reading:

“The time of year to knuckle down and go again has come, but the decision I had to make was the toughest yet. With new challenges I’ll face in the coming months and goals to fulfil that will require 100% from me, I’ve decided it’s best to step away from the Kildare senior football team.

Johnny Byrne and Fergal Conway with Owen Duffy Johnny Byrne in action for Kildare against Monaghan in Croke Park. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I’m grateful for my time in the Kildare jersey and to have met such exceptional people on my journey – players, managers and supporters.

“I’d like to thank family and friends that have been there through it all without question, I’m forever thankful. To my two clubs Allenwood GFC and Coill Dubh Hurling Club, your support has been endless and mine to you will be the same. So for now it’s a farewell, but I’ll never rule out playing in the Lilywhite jersey again!!”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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